Balance and Gait

Published Research on How BrainHQ Affects Balance, Gait, and Fall Risk

A lot of people have heard that physical fitness enhances brain function, but what about the other way around? Can brain fitness affect physical function?

Two randomized, controlled trials suggest the answer is yes. These trials trained older adults with BrainHQ exercises designed to improve visual speed and attention.

But why would improving visual speed and attention affect balance and fall risk? Staying on your feet is a “brain job” because your brain is constantly telling your body to make tiny adjustments (in milliseconds and millimeters) so that you don’t fall down. For instance, if you trip on a crack in the sidewalk, the fact that you are starting to fall is detected by both your balance system (your “inner ear”) and visual system (which notices that the world is starting to tilt), and your brain sends commands to your muscles to help keep you upright. A faster, more accurate visual system may help a person notice that they are off balance and react more quickly, or even notice a fall risk hazard and avoid it in the first place.

Here are some details on the two training studies:


  • A study at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University showed that people (in this case mostly African American women) age 65+ who trained on three visual training exercises in BrainHQ for 20 hours made significant gains in balance and gait speed, while the control group experienced declines over the same period.
  • The second study showed that people aged 70+ who trained on visual BrainHQ exercises for 30 hours did significantly better at maintaining their balance than people who were in the control group.


Information and citations for balance and gait-related articles

In general, these studies were conducted in cognitively healthy adults aged 65 and older, and in some cases, aged 50 and older. Remember that studies show average results, and that individual results will vary. Where published studies make reference to clinical populations, it is for informational purposes only. BrainHQ is not intended to diagnose or treat any clinical condition.


Impact of cognitive training on balance and gait in older adults
Smith-Ray et al. (2015)
Journals of Gerontology Series B
View abstract

A randomized trial to measure the impact of a community-based cognitive training intervention on balance and gait in cognitively intact black older adults
Smith-Ray et al. (2015)
Health Education & Behavior
View article